Young people today face many challenges that are well beyond their years, and the need for positive fellowship and encouraging words is a must to help them through. The Salvation Army in its continued effort to identify a need in the community and creatively address it head on, has taken a page from its own history and making it relevant to today’s youths.
During the first World War, the name of The Salvation Army became synonymous with a small, round, deep-fried pastry: the donut. Women members of The Salvation Army, endearingly named Donut Girls, made these little confections of compassion alongside the troops fighting in the trenches, and gave them out of love to the battle-weary soldiers to provide sustenance and boost morale. Today, a similar tactic is being deployed to an all new battlefield - not to a foreign land, or military campaign, but to the neighborhoods and schools of our own communities, where children are seeking compassion and confidence in a time neither seem to be affluent.
In the city of Medford, Oregon The Salvation Army has been holding regular devotional and spiritual wellness meetings for young people at a local donut shop located across the street from one of the City’s Middle Schools. Every Wednesday, from 8:15-8:45a, Major Angelina Koenig (Corps Officer of The Salvation Army in Medford) meets the kids at the Donut Shop before school, and lets them share about their lives, joys, fears and frustrations, and then turns to God’s Word for guidance and encouragement. They do this all while enjoying a comfort food in a comfortable environment.
“We’re all so close during this time and we have tons of fun! The donuts are good but I’m here for the friendly faces and kind smiles.” – Julie age 13
What started out as Major Koenig’s son and a few youth from the corps, the group has grown exponentially, almost taking over the lobby of the little shop where they congregate. While some might argue that “kid’s today” are detached from their feelings or emotionally stunted by video games and on-demand media, this weekly gathering shows that there is a desire in the hearts of these young people for not only food for the body, but food for the soul. – Captain Jared Arnold, Cascade Division